Nigerian telecommunications operators have called for the removal of all bottlenecks in the way of securing right of way (RoW) and permits among others in order to provide better access, achieve the desired national broadband objectives of 30 per cent penetration by 2018 and provide affordable services across the country.
The operators who spoke at the quarterly seminar organised by the Nigerian Information and Communications Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) at the weekend in Lagos said although the NCC is the statutory authority charged with the regulation of telecoms services in Nigeria, today, the telecoms sector has witnessed incursions into the regulatory space by other agencies including state and local governments.
They said these agencies impose levies and fees on service providers for location towers, right of way, and make other laws that govern infrastructure in their domains. The acts of these agencies have sometimes led to indiscriminate shut down of base stations and operator sites, leading to disruption of services.
Engr. Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) said, “the issue of multiple taxation and concurrent regulation in the telecoms industry has been a source of concern to industry players and a major source of friction between service providers and the intervening agencies. In some cases, the matters have ended up in the law courts, and till date the issues appear unresolved.”
He therefore urged the NCC to strengthen its relationships with each state of the federation and their relevant agencies to ensure a smooth operating environment for the delivery of telecoms services as well as greater collaboration of industry associations and stakeholders to ensure a conducive operating business environment for telecoms companies operating in Nigeria.
Teniola who was represented by the first vice president of ATCON, Mr. Anthony Nwosu called for increased enlightenment and awareness on the importance of telecoms services to national growth and development; and called on the federal government to collaborate with state and local governments on the issue of tax harmonization.
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) on his part said government should protect telecom infrastructure by legislating it as critical national socio-economic infrastructure and protect the industry by ring fencing telecommunications from the influence of various MDAs.